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Making the Rounds with Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson
 Issue 184 - February 26, 2019
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

You’ve heard it now repeatedly -- where doctors do their post graduate residencies and fellowships is where they often stay to practice medicine. And so it has been for Dr. Allison McNickle, who joined the UNLV School of Medicine’s Acute Care Surgery Fellowship in 2016. Yes, we’re so fortunate that after Dr. McNickle finished her fellowship last year -- she graduated as one of the top fellows ever to have been in the program -- she chose to stay on and has become our section chief of trauma surgery. Today, I’m sure you’ll enjoy learning more about Dr. McNickle, a young surgeon so skilled that Dr. Douglas Fraser, the program director for the fellowship, says she has “distinguished herself in critical care, trauma surgery, emergency general surgery, research, resident teaching, community outreach and citizenship in both the hospital and throughout the Las Vegas community.” 
Barbara signature, first name only
YOUNG TRAUMA SURGEON MAKING A NAME FOR HERSELF
Dr. Allison McNickle, who grew up in Illinois and received her undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins University, came to Las Vegas for fellowship training. She now says Southern Nevada feels like home
By the time she turned 5-years-old, Dr. Allison McNickle, now an assistant professor in the UNLV School of Medicine Department of Surgery, says her parents sensed that one day she would be a physician.

Missing bandages gave them a hint.

“I was always bandaging my teddy bears,” says Dr. McNickle, laughing. “I had quite the imagination.” 

Today, as the medical school’s section chief of trauma surgery, she deals with harsh reality at the UMC Trauma Center on virtually a daily basis.

Whether it’s handling gunshot wounds, knifings, burns, or injuries from horrific traffic accidents, she’s developed a reputation for being one of the best surgeons at putting people back together.

“If she is there, I can guarantee she will be the one to give you the best chance for a successful outcome,” says Dr. Douglas Fraser, the medical school’s division chief for acute care surgery and burn surgery. “Dr. McNickle is the person I would call if I was injured.”

It was the UNLV School of Medicine’s Acute Care Surgery Fellowship that brought Dr. McNickle to Southern Nevada in 2016 from Chicago, where she had just completed a general surgery residency through the University of Illinois-Chicago at Mount Sinai Hospital.

“I knew I wanted to be a trauma surgeon, from the kind of cases I dealt with, but I felt a need for more training,” Dr. McNickle says. “The Acute Care Surgery Fellowship offered me that.”
“When I came here, I thought Southern Nevada was just about the desert, the Strip and nightlife and gambling...but I found it was a city much like others with great outdoor recreation -- I love to hike -- and a great trauma center.”
The demand for such fellowships has grown as the demands on trauma surgeons have grown. Surgical emergencies that used to be handled by specialists in thoracic, gastrointestinal, plastic or general surgery are now frequently performed by trauma surgeons.

A study of surgeons at 90 U.S. academic medical centers showed that trauma surgeons perform a variety of urgent procedures, including gallbladder removal, hernia repair, appendix removal and spleen repair and removal. In addition to operating room surgeries, trauma surgeons often perform bedside procedures such as placing drainage tubes in chests or catheters in veins.

Dr. McNickle says the training she received from Dr. Fraser -- she refers to him as her mentor -- was both taxing and rewarding. “He sets very high standards for himself and for fellows. He pushes you to be your best. He challenges you. He’s not afraid to tell you that you could do better…if there’s a specific course somewhere that he thinks could help you, he’ll send you to it.” 

In the summer of 2018, Dr. McNickle completed her fellowship. She says that in some ways she surprised herself by wanting to stay in Southern Nevada. “When I came here, I thought
Southern Nevada was just about the desert, the Strip and nightlife and gambling...but I found it was a city much like others with great outdoor recreation -- I love to hike -- and a great trauma center.”

Dr. McNickle grew up in Villa Park, a suburb of Chicago. Her father was a professor of theology and her mother was in marketing. A brother went into banking. “I’m the first in my family to go into medicine.”

Science and math were her favorite subjects in the public schools she attended. She says her parents were always supportive, even convincing administrators that she should skip ahead a year in math so she would be challenged and not bored by her studies. The fact that she often found herself in the distinct minority in higher math and science classes -- “girls were definitely outnumbered by guys in many science and math classes” -- did not bother her.

“I had things I wanted to learn,” she says, adding that when she wasn’t studying she was playing for the girls’ basketball team or participating in competitive badminton.

When it was time for college, Allison McNickle chose to exercise her independence and move away from home. “I was ready to go away but didn’t want a real big school.” Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, with just over 6000 undergraduates, was her choice.

There, her interest in science and math grew even greater. And she became a varsity member of the women’s rowing team. Graduating with honors, he realized she wanted to be closer to home for medical school. “It’s particularly nice to have social support when you’re going through that,” she says. She was accepted at Rush Medical College in Chicago.

“I pretty much knew I wanted to go into surgery from the get go,” she says. During her general surgery residency in Chicago, she soon understood that trauma surgery was her passion.

“I like thinking on my feet,” she says.

During her fourth year of residency, she handled a gunshot to the abdomen case from beginning to end. By the time her supervisor came in, she had successfully handled the situation. “That’s when I knew for sure that this is what I want to do, that I can do this.”

Often, patients and their families will stop by to thank her for lifesaving efforts at the UMC Trauma Center. “I may have sent them off to rehab on a ventilator and they come back talking...it’s a wonderful feeling to help someone. That’s what gets me up in the morning.”
IN THE NEWS  
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UNLV to Begin Search for Next Medical School Dean

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February 21, 2019



MEDICINE BY THE NUMBERS
150,000 DEATHS

In the United States, injuries account for over 150,000 deaths and more than 3 million non-fatal injuries per year.


Source : http://www.aast.org/trauma-facts

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